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Lakehead 2009-2010 Academic Units Faculty of Graduate Studies Faculty of Forestry and the Forest Environment Forest Sciences Graduate Program
Forest Sciences Graduate Program

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Forest Sciences

Associate Professor and Interim Dean U.T. Runesson
Graduate Co-ordinator R.E. Pulkki
Core: Doctoral Supervisory
H. Chen,
Q-L. Dang,
S. Hecnar (Biology),
M.A. Leitch,
H. Lemelin (Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism),
K. Leung (Biology),
L. Lovett-Doust (adjunct to Biology),
N.J. Luckai,
A. Mallik (Biology),
N. McIntyre (Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism),
D.W. Morris (Biology),
C. Nelson (Social Work),
W.H. Parker,
E.E. Prepas (Canada Research Chair),
R.E. Pulkki,
M.A. Smith,
J.R. Wang,
W.R. Wilson (Geography)
Adjunct Professors
G. Larocque,
D.M. Morris,
M. Sharma


The PhD in Forest Sciences is a research-based program focused on the development of researchers in the field of forest sciences, including, but not limited to the following subject areas: biodiversity in forest environments; conservation biology; evolutionary ecology; forest ecology and ecological processes; forest entomology and pathology; forest fire management and ecology; forest management, economics and operations; forest recreation; forest soils and soil conservation; forest genetics and tree improvement; population and community ecology; remote sensing and photogrammetry; silviculture; sustainable forest management; tree morphology and physiology; watershed ecology, forest hydrology and water quality; wildlife/animal habitat management and conservation; and wood science.


Admission to the PhD program is governed by Lakehead University's general regulations for graduate programs (see pp 267-269). Admission, however, will be subject to the availability of a Supervisory Committee for the student. Normally, an applicant to the program would be expected to have completed a master's degree in forestry, related science or an allied discipline; however, students lacking the appropriate background will be required to complete additional courses (up to 2 FCEs at the graduate level) to cover deficiencies as determined by the Supervisory Committee and approved by the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee.

Qualifying Examination
Qualifying examinations are to be held within twelve months of registration in the PhD in Forest Sciences program. In the case of a graduate student enrolled in a Master's program who requests to transfer to the PhD program without completion of the Master's program, a qualifying examination will be arranged as soon as reasonably feasible; the successful completion of the examination will permit the student to register in the PhD program, otherwise the student will remain registered as a Master's candidate.

The purpose of the qualifying examination is to confirm the student's comprehensive level of competence in fields related to his/her intended field of specialized study. The examination may reveal inadequacies in the student's preparation, which may be remedied by requiring additional formal coursework at the graduate or undergraduate level. The examination thereby serves as a diagnostic of the student's readiness to undertake PhD study. In cases of poor comprehensive performance the student will be asked to revert to a Master's program, remain in his/her Master's program, or to withdraw.

The qualifying examination will determine whether the student is prepared to continue in the PhD program or in the case of a Master's student allowed to transfer into the PhD program. The minimum level of expected knowledge is that obtained from a well-rounded four year undergraduate program emphasizing an appreciation of the research needs in the field, an understanding of basic principles, and the ability to apply these principles to research.

Based on the recommendation of the Committee, the Faculty will require:

1) That the student be allowed to proceed with the PhD program unconditionally.

2) That the student be allowed to proceed with the PhD program with the condition that he/she must take one or more additional course(s).

3) That the student transfer from the PhD to an appropriate Master's program or continue in his/her Master's program.

4) That the student take the examination again, at a time to be determined by the Advisory Committee, but within six months following the first attempt. Only one repeat of the examination will be allowed.

5) That the student withdraw from the PhD program.

English Language Proficiency
Applicants whose native language is not English and who have not studied in an English school system for more than three years will be required to present proof of English proficiency by achieving a total score of at least 550 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and a score of at least 4.0 on the Test of Written English (TWE).


1. Supervisory Committee

The Supervisory Committee will consist of at least three members of whom two are core faculty, and one of the core faculty will be the supervisor for the student. The Chair of the Committee will be the student's supervisor. Other members of the Committee may include core faculty, non-core faculty who participate in the teaching of graduate courses, and collaborating adjunct professors.

The academic program for each PhD candidate will be developed by the Supervisory Committee, in consultation with the student. The Supervisory Committee for the student will recommend to the Faculty of Forestry and the Forest Environment Graduate Studies Committee the academic program for the student for approval.

2. Minimum Satisfactory Academic Standing

As an exception to the Graduate Studies Regulations, Minimum Satisfactory Academic Standing (page 268), a minimum grade of 70% is required for every course undertaken as part of the program.

3. Residency

The residency requirement will be a minimum of one year (three terms), of which two terms must be consecutive.

4. Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination will assess the student's general preparedness for the PhD degree and specific areas in his or her chosen area of study and research. It will also assess the student's ability to integrate material from divergent areas, to reconcile theoretical, methodological and empirical issues, and to think critically and creatively. The comprehensive examination will be an oral examination conducted in camera by the Comprehensive Examination Committee. The comprehensive examination must be completed at least one year prior to graduation and is expected to be no later than 24 months after initial registration. Only two attempts at the comprehensive examination will be permitted. Students who fail the second attempt will be required to leave the PhD program.

At least three months before the Comprehensive Examination, the Supervisory Committee will meet with the student to review the requirements for the comprehensive examination, the procedures to be followed and to set the date for the examination. A record of this information will be given to the student and another placed in the student's file. The Comprehensive Examining Committee will consist of the student's Supervisory Committee and at least one additional examiner who is external to the supervisory committee. The external examiner is appointed by the Dean of the Faculty of Forestry and the Forest Environment on the recommendation of the Supervisory Committee. The Examination will be Chaired and Moderated by the PhD (forest sciences) program coordinator or designate. The Chair will only vote in cases of a tie committee vote. The oral examination should normally be a maximum of three hours. After the Examination, the Comprehensive Examination Committee will decide on one of the following outcomes:
1) Pass will be awarded to a student who demonstrates an acceptable level of knowledge of his/her area of study and requires a simple majority vote by the Committee.
2) Re-examination will be awarded to a student who does not have an acceptable level of knowledge of his/her area of study and requires a simple majority vote by the Committee. The re-examination must occur no earlier than one month and no later than six months after the first examination. The outcome of the re-examination can only be "pass" or "fail".
3) Fail will be awarded to a student who in the re-examination can still not demonstrate an acceptable level of knowledge of his/her area of study and requires a simple majority vote by the Committee.

5. Dissertation and Defence

The dissertation research must be original and independent work that will significantly advance knowledge in forest sciences. The dissertation may be of traditional format, or a compilation of normally at least three peer-reviewed published articles of the research by the student. Review of the dissertation will be by the student's Supervisory Committee and an external examiner.

The dissertation, when deemed ready by the student's Supervisory Committee, is examined externally (administered by the Office of Graduate Studies). When the external examination has been satisfactorily completed, the student must successfully defend the dissertation in a public oral presentation and examination. The Examining Committee at the defence normally consists of the student's Supervisory Committee and the External Examiner, who may be represented by the Supervisor.

6. Time to Completion

Students will be registered full time and expected to complete their course requirements, comprehensive exam and dissertation within 4 years from entry into the PhD program. Course requirements would normally be completed during the first year of the program.


To fulfill the degree requirements, students must complete a total of eight (8) full course equivalents at the graduate level consisting of the following components:

Students will normally be required to successfully complete at least one full course equivalent in courses at the graduate level as part of his/her program, the comprehensive examination Forestry 6701 (worth one full course equivalent), and the preparation and oral defense of a research dissertation Forestry 6901 (worth six full course equivalents). If a student has not previously taken the graduate seminar course (Forestry 5995 or Biology 5010), it should be taken in addition to the PhD requirements.

PhD students may choose graduate courses from those offered within the Faculty of Forestry and the Forest Environment, Department of Biology and School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism, with the exception of Forestry 5901 and 5980, Biology 5901, and OUTD 5901.

All graduate students are allowed to register in 5000-level courses, but generally only PhD students are allowed to register in 6000-level courses. However, with the Faculty's permission and on a case-by-case basis, students in their second year of an MSc, MScF or MF program may be permitted to register in a 6000-level course.